West Nile Report

But a majority of those cases were right here in the Panhandle.

Florida health officials say the sparsely populated Panhandle presents better breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Now, of the Panhandle counties hit the hardest Leon County health officials say we've been pretty fortunate not to be one of them.

Florida Department of Health records show that 10 Panhandle counties accounted for nearly 60-percent of the states West Nile cases this year.

Those counties include Calhoun, Franklin, and Bay counties.

Becky Dalissio with the Leon County Health Department says it's been several years since a confirmed case in Leon County.

"Our environmental division does conduct surveillance in the community we look a mosquito pulls dead birds surveillance also with chicken flock. Anytime there's a spike with West Nile we put out public releases of info,” Dalissio says.

In the warmer months when mosquitoes were active, Angie Pearson says she took safety precautions and warnings about West Nile very seriously.

"It was very serious to me to hear that some folks it was fatal so I made sure that there was no standing water around my house because of me pets and myself. I was very cautious,” explains Pearson.

Dalissio says Leon County has been very fortunate not to have any cases and there's been no activity recently.

Nonetheless she says it doesn't mean folks in the county are immune to the virus.

Other diseases that are mosquito borne include Eastern Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis. Those are a few that health officials say are present in the state of Florida year round.

Florida had a total of 83 confirmed cases and six deaths; Bay County leads Florida’s with 14 cases this year, including one death. In Georgia there were a total of 48 West Nile cases and four deaths.

wctv6.com Extended Web Coverage

West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report